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Our entire democracy is at risk
November 22, 2021

Richard Blumenthal, the US Democratic Senator from Connecticut, was shaken by the testimonies of top officials of the Department of Justice during the August 2021 Congressional hearings. The Officials recounted how the former President, Donald Trump, through phone and in private meetings, pressured them to falsify the results of the November 2020 Presidential: "say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to the congressmen and me". (”Mother Jones”, July 30, 2021) Blumenthal "was struck by how close the country came to total catastrophe". A coup d’état, attempted by Trump, pressuring the Supreme Court, to invalidate the election results?

For the” New York Times” (July 30, 2021), the "latest example of Mr. Trump's wide-ranging campaign during his final weeks in office to delegitimize the election result." The defeated President, in delusion to still be President, unwilling to concede after being defeated, "setting a very bad precedent", as the” New Yorker”-author John Cassidy wrote in his story titled “The long term damage of Trump’s anti-democratic lies (November 13, 2020).  Until this year such a behavior" would have been unthinkable. In the country's two hundred and forty-three-year history such a thing has never happened".

So many things never happened before, such as lies, exaggerations, more than 60 court cases, the judges rejecting all accusations of the delusional legal Trump brigades, more manipulations, the firing of officials who resisted the President's arm twisting. In September/October of last year," Foreign Affairs"( was alarmed about the "Fragile Republic", stating "America's Democracy has never faced so many threats all at once": Politicians, historians, vociferous masses on Facebook were debating civil war scenarios. The absolute majority of Trump's 74 million Presidential voters are convinced that their candidate had been unfairly ejected from office.  CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein stated (CNN, January 19, 2021):” Trump leaves America at its most divided since the Civil war.” Susan Stokes, a political science professor who directs the Chicago Center on Democracy at the University of Chicago, declared a civil war was unlikely since "we are not Yugoslavia, we're not Spain. But we are definitely in danger of a kind of lower-level violence, decentralized … constant outbreaks, for years to come." (CNN, January 19, 2021)

Her colleague Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth political scientist, agreed with her assessment, but rather predicted a "political erosion", the gradual undermining of democratic norms and democratic institutions, which ultimately can prove fatal to democracy."  Democratic erosion", Nyhan told the "New Yorker",(November 13, 2020) "happens in a slow and piecemeal process …” The famous Princeton history professor Sean Wilentz, author of "The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln", considered the 6th of January, the storming of Congress by a Trump -mob, as the saddest day in the history of American democracy since April 12 1861, the day the Civil War commenced. "(CNN January 19, 2021).

”We don’t know the exact moment when democracy dies”

One year since Donald Trump has been voted out of office, the former President has not ceased to question the legitimacy of his successor, Joe Biden, and thereby destabilizing American democracy enough to raise questions advanced by Masha Gessen in the “New Yorker” (April 16, 2020), three years after Trump's inauguration." Is America's democracy dead?  Is this the definite end of American democracy?", and then answering herself:" We won't know the exact moment when democracy dies."

Donald Trump asserted (and later retreated from his statement) that the Presidency gives him total power; he was the king, at least an American authoritarian .”When somebody’s is the President  of the United States, the authority is total, and that’s the way it got to be”, Trump insisted at a  White House corona briefing ( CNN, April 14, 2020) Racism pervaded his rhetoric; Christian- nationalist authoritarianism was liberated through Trump and accepted by the mainstream of the Republican party, as was the big lie of the stolen election .  By the end of May of this year, more than 100 scholars issued a warning that "American Democracy is in danger" since Trump's defeat, and the Republican loss of the majority in the Senate, Republican-led states are proposing or are already implementing "radical changes" to election laws, transforming voting procedures in several states into "political systems, that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections." (Forbes, June 1, 2021).

The statement includes the prediction:" our entire democracy is now at risk." Complicated identity controls are imposed, voting by mail and early voting will be limited, access to the ballot box will be restricted, and the power to override electoral outcomes based on unproven allegations will be extended."And black voters, isolated in the ghettos, an important electorate for the Democratic Party, will be pushed into oblivion. Ron Brownstein wrote in a CNN analysis (January 19, 2021, that" in the long run, whatever Biden and other Democrats do, the question of whether the US faces more violence and other threats to the fundamental political stability probably rests more with the choices that Republicans make. Suppose the party continues to validate and welcome extremists at its fringe and move further toward adopting anti-democratic tactics in its mainstream. In that case, the nation could be locked into a cycle of rising disorder-particularly because the growing racial and religious diversity that triggers so much of the alienation in the Republican Coalition will only intensify in the years ahead,”Brownstein added:" The widespread Republican support for Trump's efforts to steal the election which persisted to the point of a majority of House Republicans voting to overturn the results, even after the mob of his supporters ransacked the Capitol, has placed a dramatic exclamation point on this retreat  from democracy in the GOP.” On march 2, 2019, Carl Bernstein of "Washington Post/ Watergate"- fame, suggested on CNN, for whom he is a political analyst ,  that the nation was engaged in a "Cold Civil War", and the President was "every day bringing it closer and closer  to ignition".

Electoral Corruption

 A Republican majority, confirmed an ABC/Washington Post survey, agreed that GOP leaders should have tried even more to overturn the election result. These attitudes bring to the point, noted CNN analyst Brownstein, years of surveys showing a retreat from democratic values in a significant portion of the GOP base.  In one recent" Public Religion Research Institute" study, nearly three-fifths of Republicans agreed that "because things have gotten so far off track in this country, we need a leader who is willing to break some rules if that's what it takes; to set things right." In another opinion poll organized by political scientist Larry Bartels, a majority of Republican voters agreed "the traditional American way of life is disappearing so far that we may have to use force to save it." Donald Trump tried his part:" During the last days in office, President Trump and his allies reported the” New York Times Magazine” (September 30, 2020) "undertook an increasingly urgent effort to undermine the election results. That wide-ranging campaign included perpetuating false and thoroughly debunked claims of election fraud as well as pressing government officials to help."

Several officials of his administration, who publicly confirmed that the elections had been flawless, were fired by Trump. His loyal Attorney General William Barr resigned. Once the election results left no doubt that the President had lost. Trump publicly pressured his Vice President, Mike Pence, who would have to certify the final and just election result in Congress to declare the election as not valid (which Pence declined for constitutional reasons). Trump, on December 27, 2020, personally called the then-acting Attorney General at the Department of Justice, Jeffrey A.Rosen  and his deputy, Richard P. Donoghue, asking them to declare the election corrupt and illegal, even though they had not found instances of widespread fraud, noted Mr ;Donoghue after the call in his private notes, " We have an obligation to tell people that this was an illegal and corrupt election", Trump insisted; Rosen and Donoghue answered, according to their notes, which were presented to Congress (July 30; 2021, “New York Times”) "we are doing our job. Much of the info you are getting is false." Trump: "You guys may not be following the internet the way I do". At another moment, the private notes confirm that Rosen tells the President that the Justice Department "can't and won't snap its fingers and change the outcome of the elections."

" The phone call by Mr Trump was perhaps the most audacious moment in a month's long pressure campaign aimed at enlisting the Justice Department in his crusade to overturn the election results," wrote  “New York Times “correspondent Katie Benner. The top officials resisted the Presidential pressure; Mr Donoghue informed Trump the department had no power to change the election outcome. Trump was tempted replacing the reluctant Mr Rosen with another, seemingly more loyal official of the Justice Department, Jeffrey Clark, who was willing to circulate a draft letter, claiming that the Justice Department had identified "significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple states, including Georgia.", an attempt which shows "the lengths Trump's allies were willing to go to overturn the Presidential elections" (CNN, August 4, 2021, and Donoghue refused to sign the brazenly untrue letter. They ordered their colleague not to continue his secret conversation with the President, during which Mr Clark tried to convince Trump why he should replace Mr Rosen and appoint him. The personal message of the desperate Donald Trump for his resisting top officials left no doubt, the people "saying that the election isn't corrupt, are corrupt." These weeks a Congressional Commission is trying to search for the truth: how much was Donald Trump involved in the conspiracy to declare the election invalid, and Donald Trump as the duly elected the President. How close did America come to a coup, with the defeated Trump being one of the driving forces in this alleged act of treason? If an attempted coup it was. An opinion poll published  November 1, 2021, revealed “alarming findings”, Caitlin Dickson of “Yahoo News” reported, “30 percent of Republicans say violence may be needed to save the US.”

The opinions expressed in this article belong to the author.


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